Who it’s for: Fans of open-world action games who don’t own a PS4 to play “inFamous” or “Spider-Man”
Console: Xbox One, PC
Sometimes, I genuinely feel bad for Xbox One owners. The Xbox One X stands alone as the most powerful game system available, and yet owners can’t get a great exclusive that doesn’t involve racing.
The latest effort coming out of Microsoft Game Studios, “Crackdown 3,” continues the long-running, over-the-top, open-world action series, but unfortunately does so in a way that feels dated and somewhat uninspired.
The series’ extreme action centers around powering up your lead character from normal human to superhero abilities, all while taking down hordes of heavily armed baddies.
Cartoonish in the extreme, it genuinely feels great once your character is strong enough to throw cars and leap over tall buildings.
The game’s structure compares to PS4 exclusives like “inFamous: Second Son” and “Spider-Man.” But while these games push the boundaries with cool powers and deep storylines, “Crackdown 3” hangs its hat on its familiar action and unique but weak multiplayer offering.
The single-player portion of “Crackdown 3” plays great. Though you start out underpowered, collecting orbs quickly enhances your abilities. In no time flat, you’ll be jumping and climbing up the sides of buildings, unlocking new weapons and beating back increasingly powerful surges of corporate thugs.
That’s about all the story you’ll get. Big bad corporation runs the city. You’re an agent trying to reclaim the city. You’ll embark on various missions, reclaiming landmarks and swaths of land for the Agency while luring the corporation’s corrupt leaders out of hiding so you can fight and beat them.
You do get a wonderful array of crazy weapons to rain down destruction with. Grenades that will freeze their victims and a bolt gun that sets people on fire are just a couple of examples of the fun waiting for you. They complement your increasing strength nicely.
While you’ll find a number of wonderfully animated cutscenes talking about the various leaders and your responsibly to find them, the focus of the game remains squarely on exploration (to obtain more orbs) and combat.
One welcome addition comes in the muscle-bound, wise-cracking form of Terry Crews (“Brooklyn 99”) as one of the playable agents. It would have been nice if his presence was felt a little more — he’s relegated to a small number of lines and a kick-butt animated form — but what’s there is gold and makes the game a lot of fun.
So if you’re looking for a fun but somewhat basic game where you explore the city, collect a bunch of stuff and constantly fight the bad guys, “Crackdown 3” will scratch that particular itch.
Then there is the multiplayer. Referred to as the “Wrecking Zone,” the game’s multiplayer bears very little similarity to the solo campaign. But featuring only two modes and no player-progression system, it isn’t even fair to call this one half-baked.
Agent Hunter is the better of the two multiplayer modes. Similar to other Deathmatch modes, players need to take down their competition and retrieve a player token in order to bank a point.
Territories plays more like capture the flag, but with multiple zones in play at any one time. With the right group, it can be fun, but generally it gets old quickly.
The highlight of Wrecking Zone is undoubtedly the destruction. In the single-player campaign, buildings and objects take any amount of abuse you might throw at them, but in Wrecking Zone, you can bring a building down around your opponent to score a win.
You can also blow holes in floors for a quick vertical escape, a feature I found when I accidentally dropped a grenade at my own feet, briefly scrambled away, and rolled back over the resulting hole for a quick getaway.
The whole experience of Wrecking Zone feels incongruous to the rest of the game, and one can’t help but feeling that if the team would have taken those hours to make the campaign more innovative, the result would have been a better game.
Both the graphics and voice work are great and add significantly to the game’s quality, and both tight platforming and shooting controls make the gameplay smooth so you can concentrate on enjoying the objectives, if they are enough to keep you interested.
Overall, “Crackdown 3” isn’t a bad game; it’s just two very different experiences: a single-player campaign that feels a little too basic and dated, and a multiplayer offering that doesn’t offer any compelling reason to play at all.
The bottom line is, if you enjoy these types of games, the campaign is fun and worth playing, but you should get your multiplayer kicks somewhere else.